So you’re from India, single, below 30 and want to backpack across Europe – as romanticised by countless movies and books? But as an holder of Indian passport, getting a Schengen visa can be very, very difficult. I got some feedback from readers, wondering how I managed to travel so much when it is almost impossible to get a Schengen visa for single travellers.
1. Visit other countries first
I cannot stress this enough, stop day dreaming about Europe and go to other countries first. Thailand is good place to ease in as your first destination outside India. It’s almost impossible to get a Schengen visa on an empty passport for a single traveler. If you have visited other countries, it reduces your chances of looking like a potential illegal immigrant. In my case, I had visited Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea when I applied for Schengen visa. Appear like a discerning traveller, when asked give them genuine reasons how you enjoyed your past trips.
2. Book through HostelBookers
We all know how expensive staying in hotels is. No, you can’t say to the visa officer that you’re planning to couchsurf. This will lead to an instant rejection. What you can do is show that you’re staying in hostels – go to HostelBookers.com and book the cheapest hostels in these cities you want to stay. HostelBookers doesn’t charge a booking fee and takes only 10% of the total amount (the rest to be paid in person at the hostel). When you get your visa, feel free to cancel these bookings and write your own couch requests. Though some hostels have a policy that if you cancel they charge one night’s fees.
3. Showing bank balance
This is what everyone tells you, that bank balance is important. But you want to travel even if you don’t have money, right? The trick here is to borrow some money from your parents/relatives for a while, show visa officers your increased bank balance and as soon as your visa is approved pay them back. This works only if you really return the money Also it helps your case if you add whatever documents you have which show your ties to India – if you have bought a house then include the photocpy of agreement or if you have bought a car include the sales copy in your application.
You don’t want to appear at a loss of words while answering the visa officer’s questions. Do a thorough research on what sights you want to see in particular cities and how to get there. Don’t use words like hitchhiking, backpacking etc. You will appear confident and at ease if you know or at least pretend to know what you’re doing.